… AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (1979)
Al Pacino was forced to choose between making this picture and making Kramer vs Kramer. He opted for …And Justice for all. Dustin Hoffman grabbed the other film and won an Academy Award for his performance in it. For what it is worth, I thought Pacino’s choice was the better picture (entertainment – wise) of the two.
Jack Warden as Judge Francis Rayford
When Judge Francis Rayford (played by Jack Warden) fired a pistol in the air in his courtroom, I was tempted to turn off the movie. Judges do not do things like that – or so I thought. According to director Norman Jewison’s audio-commentary, however, he cites a judge in Texas doing precisely that. The man brought a gun into his courtroom and fired it into the air! In fact, Jewison cited research that showed that, in one American borough, no fewer than five (out of six) criminal court justices wore firearms into their courtrooms. Incidentally, when Warden is shown eating his lunch whilst sitting on the ledge of the law building four stories up, he really was four stories up! He was, however, wearing a security cable harness under his clothes as a safety precaution in case he slipped or stumbled.
After completing The Godfather (1972), Pacino was so broke he actually owed a studio $15,000, so he never saw a paycheck for his work on that film. At just five feet six inches (1.68m), he was repeatedly rejected by studio heads for the role of Michael Corleone, but Francis Ford Coppola fought for him. Producers and executives alike continually referred to Pacino as ‘the midget’, and both he and Coppola were in constant fear of being fired from the picture.
John Forsythe as Judge Henry Fleming
John Forsythe portrayed Judge Henry Fleming here. It may interest readers to know that he was once an acting teacher. In fact, he taught up-and-coming actors Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Julie Harris and Patricia Neal at the same school. He was the only actor to appear in all two hundred and twenty episodes of the hit TV series Dynasty (1981). He even taught his future Dynasty co-star Joan Collins acting when she was just a teenager. By the way, Forsythe was not the first choice to portray Blake Carrington on Dynasty. George Peppard had the role for just one week, but left because of ‘creative differences’ with the writers, so Forsythe replaced him.
Lee Strasberg (the head of Actors Studio, New York) portrays Grandpa Sam in … And Justice for All. In her last will and testament, Marilyn Monroe left him total control of seventy-five percent of her estate, including the licensing of her image, in gratitude for his mentorship and kindness, both before and after she became a star. Today, Lee’s widow, Anna Strasberg, administers the combined estates, which earn millions of dollars annually in licensing fees, from advertisers or marketers use of Marilyn’s image.
The name Jeffrey Tambor may not be familiar to most movie buffs, but he played Jay Porter, the lawyer who has a breakdown and shaves his head in …And Justice for All. Reportedly, he became the first actor to use the C-word on TV, which he did on The Hankercisor 200 (1993), during The Larry Sanders Show, when referring to a woman as ‘that cunt’. He was supposed to say ‘bitch’, but in rehearsals he improvised and the late writer Gary Shandling opted for the C – word instead.
SUN VALLEY SERENADE (1941)
By the time this ice-skating picture hit the screens, Sonja Henie’s days as a movie success story were numbered. Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Fox loathed contract negotiations with the savvy, self-confident and opinionated Sonja, and had already decided not to renew her contract with Fox. It was about to lapse. To the surprise of almost everyone, however, Sun Valley Serenade, co-starring John Payne, proved to be a huge commercial hit, causing the studio’s board of directors to insist on extending the skater’s contract for a minimum of two more films, much to Zanuck’s displeasure.
As it so happened, her final five films returned diminishing box-office receipts. The fad had well and truly run its course. Both her follow-up releases for Fox, Iceland (1942) and Wintertime (1943), were box office failures, and Zanuck and Henie parted company in 1943. The writing had been on the wall long before then Henie had wanted three big production numbers in Sun Valley Serenade, but Zanuck had insisted on just two. If there was to be a third, she would have to pay the production costs herself, he informed her, which she refused. After leaving Fox, she would make three more ice-skating movies elsewhere, It’s a Pleasure (1945) and The Countess of Monte Cristo (1948), all fared poorly. Her final feature, the British-made Hello London (1958), was not even released in the United States. After her film career had run its course, Henie stayed in the public eye by producing and starring in a series of live, touring ice shows and extravaganzas, until just before her death at fifty-seven, in 1969, from leukemia.
It may surprise readers to learn that, at one point during her career at 20th Century Fox, she was paid more per picture than Shirley Temple! Little Shirley was a much bigger box-office draw (the year that Henie peaked at # 3, Shirley was clearly # 1), and it rankled Zanuck that the skater could demand (and get) such exorbitant fees for her work. Consequently, he was delighted when her contract finally expired in the mid-forties.
One particular thing truly aggravated Zanuck about Sonja Henie. When she made her first American film, One in a Million, she barely spoke English and had to be taught her dialogue phonetically. When the picture proved to be an enormous box-office hit, the opinionated Henie presumed her lack of language skills was an important element of her appeal to movie-goers, so she refused Fox’s offer to hire her a coach to teach her proper English. Consequently, her heavy, sometimes unintelligible Norwegian accent remained throughout her movie career.
Throughout her film career it was evident that she rarely ice skated one-on-one with a male partner for more than a brief lift or two. To this day it is still unclear whether this was because no-one could keep up with her on the ice, or if it was simply Henie’s notorious ego that would not allow anyone to share the screen with her during her big ice-dancing numbers. There is no doubting her massive ego. It well and truly existed for all to see. She treated those who worked for her abominably. In 1940, when the Nazis invaded Norway, she was out of the country. She telegraphed her maid and told her to place a photograph of Sonja with Hitler, (which he had autographed), in a prominent place in her house. When the Nazis arrived to take over the house, they saw the picture and left quickly. For the rest of the war, all of her possessions were left untouched by the Nazis.